Week 5: EPL and More: It’s All About Sunday

Week 5, where you start paying attention to where your team is in the table:

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

• We start with Burnley vs. Liverpool Sunderland, a 4:40 AM PST start on ESPN2.  Thanks ESPN. You’re not going to get me up for that one, even with 5 red bulls, four jelly donuts, and naked cheerleaders (all with their teeth perfectly aligned). Sorry ESPN. I’m betting on no match-up piece this week.

• A quick note and apology, TSG doesn’t cover the UEFA Cup/Europa League. We’re a small publication and we’ll start covering more of the Champion’s League once the knockout rounds begin.

• It’s all about Sunday this week. You have Chelsea and Tottenham facing off and then the derby everyone’s been waiting for:  United vs. City. Sadly, the shiny new City sportscar is missing a couple horsepower with Adebayor now suspended for three games for his premeditated stomp and Big Mouth Tevez afflicted by injury and most likely out of the contest.

Some more notes from the derby:

TSG was in Carlos Tevez’s camp last year and love his take-no-prisoners all-out style, but he really needs to have a better PR manager and limit his press clippings. That being said, the way Tevez pinballs around the pitch and menaces the opposing defense–well, I’m going to send the DVD to the USMNT forwards.

Lose the manband and get on the tally sheet

Lose the manband and get on the tally sheet

Dimitar Berbatov is quickly looking like a bust at Old Trafford. Have you seen a top-rated striker miss as many gimmes as he has? While he’s extremely valueable in dictating possession and creating space through precise passing, his style has never embodied the Glory, Glory and he needs to start scoring to justify his huge contract and transfer sum. P.S. This has nothing to do with the fact that Berbatov killed my fantasy team last year and is now off it this year.

Anderson–rumored to be in Ferguson’s dog house just a few weeks ago–has really come on for the Red Devils. I think the Man U skipper realized his deficiencies in the center midfield and realized he needed to get his more skilled youngster out there even with his lack of consistency.

Continuing with the center midfield, don’t belive that Sir Alex thinks he can get 25 games from Paul Scholes. The Red Devil manager has been very careful with Scholes pitch time, beyond that this is just posturing before January’s transfer window–which sets up nicely with one less suitor now (Chelsea ban). Man United has been linked to everyone from Jack Rodwell this summer to more recently Daniel De Rossi (public enemy number #2 or #3 for the US World Cup team) and currently Valencia’s David Silva.

Silva: Soon to be a different red shirt?

Silva: Soon to be in a different red shirt?

Ferguson is just trying to keep the asking price down for CM(s) heading into the new year transfer session. For our part, TSG thinks Silva is the right guy for the job as Man United lacks possession in the middle of the pitch. If Man U can recognize their deficiency, why can’t the USMNT?

More on Chelsea-Tottenham:

You want some stats on how fearful defenders are of getting physically punked by Chelsea tough guy striker Didier Drogba. Drogba is in the top 5 with 4 goals, but Didier’s got 35–that’s right–35 shots on goal this year in just five EPL games. How does a man that big get that much space in front of goal? It’s when defenders are scared of you both rounding them and bowling them over.

Kranjcar: Taking his tablecloth with him to Tottenham

Kranjcar: Taking his tablecloth with him to Tottenham

With Luka Modric out with injury, White Hart Lane has brought in Niko Kranjcar from Portsmouth as they continue to build their Eastern European army. Once thought to be an emerging star in the league, Kranjcar has battled injuries and a shaky ownership and management situation at Portsmouth. Look for Kranjcar to excel at Tottenham just like Lasanna Diarri has shined as a defensive cog for Real Madrid upon leaving Pompey.

Quite a crowded and qualified midfield Harry Rednapp will have at his disposal once Modric returns. Huddlestone, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Kranjcar, Bentley, Jenas, and even O’Hara. Look for pretty boy Bentley to get dealt sometime in the next few weeks for whatever deal can be found. What a mightly fall for the once-heir to the David Beckham free kick national team throne. If not Bentley, then expect Jenas to go and I would think he’s a good fit for Villa.

• Some not so good news for American Eddie Johnson. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is balking at back-up striker Diomany Kamara’s attempted loan to Newcastle citing a wealth of games coming up. We’ve been following the Fulham striker situation for awhile and that’s not good news. That leaves Bobby Zamora, Andrew Johnson (now healthy), Erik Nevland, Diomany Kamara and even Clint Dempsey (who featured up top when Johnson was out) ahead of EJ curently. I imagine EJ is less worried about making a bid for World Cup 2010 than trying to find his career right now.

KC Stadium, nice.

KC Stadium, nice.

• Look for Jozy to be up and off the pine when Hull take on new promoted Birmingham this Saturday. Hull play in their killer home digs, KC Stadium and Birmingham is likely without their main offensive weapon James McFadden.

It looks like Hull City manager Phil Brown is lining up a striking triumvirate of Kamil Ghilas, JZA and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Yes that is the guy’s full last name. Before you Bing or Google it, the name’s origins are from a marriage between two families in V of H’s homeland of Holland and an attempt to keep track of two family lineages. (One note, that dude’s name — it’s so long it keeps messing up the post’s formatting here at TSG — from now on, V of H and that’s it.)

West Ham face Liverpool at home in the late game on Saturday. Our Jonathan Spector review continues. If he’s on the left side, he’s going to go up against the stiker that Tim Howard just put at the top of his three most dangerous list this past week. Check out Grant Wahl’s piece on Howard from earlier this week and see who the other two target men that Big T fears–hint: really no surprise. Oh, and TSG loves Wahl’s reporting, if you don’t read him regularly, you should.

The Gooch Watch: We don’t want Boardwalk, Park Place or even Marvin Gardens. We’re giving our Get Out of

All yours Gooch

All yours Gooch

Jail Free card to the Gooch this weekend, zero conditions. As we’ve been saying at TSG for a few weeks, this is the weekend we hope to see Oguchi Onyewu for the home side Milan. Milan is home against bottom of the table Bologna who have managed only a single tally in a draw to middle table Bari (note: Bari did draw Inter as well) and loss to Verona.

If you don’t see Onyewu this weekend, your next bet will be Sunday, October 4th against another bottom-feeder, Atalanta. If Gooch, doesn’t show this weekend against Bologna, my brother will be dialing up with fitness concern piece with lots of “Chad Marshall(s)” for the US-Honduras game.

If Gooch doesn’t show against Bologna and Atalanta, well then Bob Bradley is right to start getting worried.

Have a good weekend and don’t miss that Manchester Derby. After all the talk in the offseason, this will be a good game.

Don’t forget to vote in our player poll on the right. I thought Inzaghi would be leading for sure…not happening.


(Update: My brother alerted me to two confusing parts of this piece, so I’ll just add in some more info here.)

“Glory, Glory” used above refers to Man United and the Man United theme song

The Daniel DeRossi comment in parenthesis refers to his elbow and sending off against the US in 2006.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Your comment about Gooch not being fit for the Honduras game if he doesn’t start seeing PT at Milan is a valid one, but the fact that Bobbo would worry about it brings up a dicey situation. If Bradley expresses concerns about Gooch’s match sharpness, which he has a right to do, or heaven forbid bench him for the final two qualies, he’ll also have to bench his son. The likelyhood of that happening is slim, as is the odds that anyone (outside the interweboshere) would call him out on it in the post-match.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/17 at 12:15 PM

      That’s an excellent point. But I think Bradley can get out of for the final two qualifiers….win or lose down in Honduras.

      We’ll have our preview piece in Honduras in a week or so, but match fit or not match fit, I think Bradley goes with experience on the road and won’t have a lot of criticism.

      Should the US win, Bradley can then start some new folks against Costa. Should they lose, Bradley and Gooch now have a game under their belt.

      Will be interesting though, huh?


      • It will definitely be interesting to see the choices. Bobbo’s come under a lot of fire (though I’m not sure how much of it he knows about since we have approx. 3 1/2 true journalists that cover the sport in this country) for his selections and tactics lately, so it will be fun to play armchair center midfielder when the time comes. As for who should play and who shouldn’t, I cannot in good faith claim that I would bench either Gooch or Jr.; however, I would not pair Bradley with Clark for the match as we’ll need more possession in that game than we saw against El Sal or T&T. While the experience factor will be huge in that environment, I also think it’s time to give some of the “greener” players a shot (it worked in 2002) and possibly tinker with the formation slightly since the 4-4-2 with Dempsey on the right and Donovan on the left isn’t working against CONCACAF opposition.

        My issue with Bob not facing a lot of heat from the media, or Sunil, is not based on the fact that I want him ousted prior to the World Cup (if we qualify). It’s that I’d like to see some accountability for the decisions he’s making or isn’t making. Why did Dempsey play almost all 180 minutes in the last two matches when it was clear that he wasn’t getting the job done on those days? Why isn’t this team playing up to its potential? Or, if this is the true team USA that we’re seeing now where did the link up play and possession that existed in the beginning of his tenure go (specifically parts of the 2007 Gold Cup, Spain and Argentina friendlies in 2008) given that the nucleus of players is the same? From a players standpoint and results standpoint, there’s not much you can fault him on. As for how they got it done, it’s either his fault or the players and the one thing that I’ve learned with coaching is that if it’s the players fault then it’s really the coach’s fault.

        Here’s to hoping for good things come October and through next summer. By the way, I heard about you guys from the Free Beer Movement; check it out and help the movement.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/17 at 7:42 PM


          Thanks for the commentary. We gave FBM the idea to have Frankie as their spokesperson.

          I think maybe we’ll do a piece on this, but as I was discussing with my brother–compare 2006 until now. We have better talent and arguably better results.

          No one’s happy with the consistency of the US team or how they are winning right now and I do think some of Bradley’s player choices and tactics can be questioned.

          But one thing to remember–and maybe I’m just taking the contrarian view here…is this team comes together for 2 games at a team here or there and have to travel at 5 to 6 hours to do it and then play in unfamiliar settings everytime — it’s like we have an Azteca on our side.

          It’s really hard to build consistency and get results at the same time. Bradley probably has made it easy by just saying–“play defense, score when you can.”

          Let’s pick a different sports — the Olympics in 2002 when the US got the bronze in basketball I believe — the US had the best talent in the world but they still couldn’t come together as a team.

          It’s hard to let people make mistakes, try out different players, when you have so little room for error.

          Again, maybe I’m taking a contrarian point of view, but…


  2. Posted by kaya on 2009/09/17 at 9:24 PM

    Srsly, doesn’t anyone here have some photoshop skillz and a few pics of Berlusconi and some 18 yo hotties? I hear the Italians take bribes…
    I know Gooch doesn’t have a silky first touch, but how has it come to this??


  3. Posted by kaya on 2009/09/17 at 9:53 PM

    Oh, and I don’t understand how you think Pippo could compete for an award for being annoying when the competition includes Crissy Ronaldo. I guess I’ll always have fond memories of Inzaghi for destroying Liverpool’s ambitions of getting lucky with the CL twice in a row =)
    I’ve always had a fondness for ppl who do a lot with so little. And then there are people like C Ron who are given so much and they cry and pout and give the ball away. I can’t stand the vain little moron.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/18 at 12:26 PM

      That’s an excellent point — however Inzaghi is just flat out annoying in everything he does.

      But you’re right Ronaldo probably trumps them. I watched him play with Real against Toronto FC a few weeks back and he was screwing around with the ball with 2 defenders and then kicked off his heel as if to say, “I’m done.”


  4. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/09/18 at 5:26 AM

    uh… Burnley played L’pool last week?


  5. You guys seem to be looking at last week’s fixture list! It’s Week 6 according to fantasy.premierleague.com and ESPN2 has the crucial Burnley v Sunderland. Something tells me you won’t be getting up at 4:30 AM for that one.


    • It’s actually only the first fixture. Still you’ve got the Scousers playing twice.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/18 at 11:35 AM

      Hey Matthew / i like….

      My apologies — I hate proofreading more than I hate Carlos Ruiz. Thanks for pointing out my foul there.
      I had the caption on the photo right in Sunderland…..if that counts.

      And you’re damn right that I will not be getting up for that game. Talk about boring.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/18 at 12:30 PM

      It’s actually Week 5 — I would surmise that fantasy makes it week 6 because either counting midweek games as a week or they are counting the week of the EPL had for the players to go play games for their country.


    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/09/19 at 5:39 AM

      I’m starting to really like Burnley. Despite Paterson’s status as the ugliest human being in football, I really like them. They have also been on ESPN nearly every week so I’ve seen a ton of their matches. It must suck to live on the West Coast, because 7:45am for a Burnley/Sunderland is not bad at all, and the first half has been really exciting. 1-1 at half


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/19 at 9:40 AM

        Cup of coffee. 3-1 Burnley — really. And check out the vindication for Nugent with 2 goals after coming on in the 2nd.

        MatthewN, how else did the game play out? That’s really astonishing to me that Burnley gets 3 against Sunderland. However, Nugent’s a very good player when he contains him emotion.

        Speaking of Alexander’s fine features, Robbie Blake looks like he just got off a bar stool and walked on the pitch.


        • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/09/20 at 5:03 PM

          The game was awesome. I get off work around 7:30 and I walk in the door and cook breakfast while listening to the pregame commentary (which was excellent– Georgie and Robbie plus Tommie Smythe were amazing this week). The game was really really competitive and Burnley is always fun to watch. They have the lowest payroll by far and no one expects anything out of them. This is precisely why they are so exciting. Nugent’s goals were of extremely high quality (one was a great header on a brilliant cross, the other was a 18 yard strike to the top corner of the goal). Since they have been on ESPN so much, I know all the players and everything. Chris Eagles, David Nugent, the GK Jensen, the starting striker Paterson, they are all very skilled. I hope they avoid relegation :)


  6. @matthewsf – I concede the point that they don’t have much time together to gel, which makes it extremely difficult when involving new players. As well as the small margin for error when there’s only 10 games to get the job done. This is part of the reason that I’ve softened my stance on Bobbo and some of the displays.

    As for recommending Frankie to the FBM, I wasn’t aware of that; great pick though. My friend has been the one behind that site and he probably mentioned it and I wasn’t paying attention.


  7. Posted by Mark T on 2009/09/19 at 7:57 AM

    Jozy got the start this morning. Scoreless at half, Jozy has one shot on goal. Game will be shown at 3:45pm Pacific on Setanta.

    Freddy not in 18 for Belenenses


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/19 at 9:42 AM

      Going to try and see the Hull game. Brown started his potential top striker duo in V of H and JZA. 3 on goal, despite 16 shots–not so great.


  8. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/19 at 9:37 AM

    Spector on the bench for West Ham — yikes.We really don’t need to have our 10/10 starters sitting against quality competition. Let’s hope Gooch at least gets a sub role.


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